(JTA) — A Norwegian political party said it will seek to outlaw circumcision in Norway.
“Circumcision on religious grounds should be a criminal offense,” Jenny Klinge, a spokesperson for Norway’s Centre Party, said in an interview earlier this month with the newspaper Dagbladet.
Klinge added that “Fortunately, circumcision is already illegal in females. The time has come for boys to receive the same legal protection."
The Centre Party, a member of the Norwegian coalition, occupies 11 seats out of the 169 in parliament.
Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community in Oslo, told JTA that he considers the issue “an existential matter” for the community.
“Banning circumcision would send a loud message that the Jewish minority is not wanted here,” he said. Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.
Last year, the government offered to regulate circumcision. The only stipulation was that medical personnel be present. “We found the terms of the offer acceptable,” Kohn said. The government’s preoccupation with the issue started last year, after Norway’s Children’s Ombudsman proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for ritual male circumcision.
“In the aftermath of discussions, several parties have come to oppose circumcision altogether," Kohn said. "Now we are seeing an escalation in the debate over the issue.”
A spokesman for the ruling Labor Party told Dagbladet that his party has yet to formulate a stand on the issue. The Centre Party has four government portfolios.
Norway is among a handful of European countries where the kosher slaughter of animals is prohibited.